Gluten free, lighter than most craft beer, and lower in alcohol and calories than wine, hard cider is fast becoming America’s new brew. Not since the young, passionate days of the craft beer industry have we seen such breathlessness to get into the game. Research firm IRI recently reported sales of cider increased more than 65 percent from October 2011 to October 2012, compared with wine sales increasing 5.6 percent and craft beer 13 percent during that time period.
“We have 166 taps between the three bars,” says Joe Kelly, owner and visionary of Thirsty Moose Tap House in downtown Portsmouth, which opened last July. The upstairs bar was first to open, followed by the downstairs events area, which caters to anyone looking for great live music, private parties, and more of a lounge atmosphere. Kelly, a serial entrepreneur, had the idea for this concept after a trip to California and a visit to the well-established Yardhouse. “I truly expected someone else to build this type of restaurant sooner,” he says. “Portsmouth is the best town in the area to live, work, and own a business. Fortunately, the timing was right and we secured an awesome space.”
In the heart of Sonoma Valley in California, the Russian River flows south through acres of highly sought-out vineyards. The Russian River Valley is an American Viticulture Area (AVA), or appellation, one of many sub-appellations within the broader North Coast appellation. An AVA is a geographical area of wine grape growing legally determined by the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The region became an official AVA in 1983, expanded its boundaries in 2005 and again in 2011, and now has more than 15,000 acres of vineyards, 200 grape growers, and 75 wineries. Many wineries in California and beyond produce wines from grapes sourced from this area.
A rum craft distillery has arrived in New Hampshire. Sea Hagg, owned by Heather Hughes and partner Ron Vars, became the only rum maker in the state when they opened last year. And Hughes has just won a award given to a handful of small businesses around the country under the auspices of SCORE, a division of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Sea Hagg’s flagship product is their Silver Rum; they now also make Amber, Peach, and Blueberry. The molasses used for the distillation comes from Louisiana, and the fruit used is local; the aging barrels are charred according to the company’s specs.
Both wine professionals and consumers agree that Italy’s wines are among the world’s finest, especially their big, bold reds. They are wines that exude class, diversity, and style. Italian reds are perfect companions to Italy’s outstanding cuisine and to our delicious Seacoast winter recipes.
Sometimes, a cocktail can be a meal in itself – or a dessert in itself. Seaglass Restaurant’s Winter Whoopie Martini lets you have your cake and drink it too. The blend of crème-y liqueurs include mint and chocolate, a pairing that goes particularly well during the holiday season. And the drink has the ultimate garnish – a seasonal peppermint candy whoopie pie made by former Chococoa Baking Company in Newburyport.